I was around town last night without my laptop and right now, I am about to go on the road for 4 hours, but… before I disappeared again, I wanted to send a shout out to Joel Siegel, who passed away after a very long fight with cancer at the to early age of 63.
I grew up with Joel and a couple of years ago, he started reaching out via e-mail… always unexpected, always a strong point of view, always a decent man.
When there finally is some Transformers Autobot chatter … seems like more than an hour of waiting for it … it is cheesy as hell. But it is also what we wanted. It’s like the world’s worst Shakespeare coming out of the mouth of robots, that no matter how complex and numerous their parts, still don’t read as human-like beings. Each is a caricature … and again, great. There’s the severe leader with a strong sense of humanity. There is Mr Fix It. And there is The Negro, the comedic robot from the “hood.” (And you know what happens to the funny Black guy in all action movies, right?) And it is crazy and lame and stereotypical … and FUN! That is the fun. And we have all to little of it. The rest…
Box Office Mojo is reporting that Fox’s number on Live Free or Die Hard for Wednesday is $8.87 million. That puts the film in position to gross between anywhere between $90 million and $150 million domestic… which is to say that all it tells us is that the film isn’t a monster… good monster or bad. Inconclusive.
Burger King… corn dogs… ice cream… Mountain Dew…
The perfect 9-year-old’s menu for the opening night party. And when the food fits the movie, eat the food… unless it makes you sick.
(Plenty of free booze too… the adults needed it… though I really felt for the many women in see-through garments who realized about 90 minutes before the party that they were both outclassed by the clothed T&A of the film and unnerved that they dressed like sluts for a movie better suited for a pair of jeans and hair pulled back for a playdate screening after they landed – and perhaps divorced – the men their evening wear was meant to trap.) Transformers is one of DreamWorks’ more expensive children’s animated films. But Badagascar did $193 million domestic and Cars did $244 million domestic, so Transformers can do $200 million too. The big advantage of those films is that they weren’t insufferably long with unneccesary exposition designed to seek the females and adult males who will never come… unless they have visitation next Saturday and need to score points with the kid.
And stupified congratulations to Kurtzman & Orci, who have absolutely lived up to the promise of Mission: Impossible III here. ($398m worldwide)
I’ll review the film on Friday, but the goofy degree of charming excess found in Live Free or Die Hard were not revisited here. More like another classic summer action film with a ton of CG, a classic character, and a $380 million worldwide gross… Godzilla.
I’m a guy who likes good junk. I’ll laugh through Eight Legged Freaks or Lake Placid and go with that flow. This film is junk. There is not a director (nor a judge nor a producer nor a P.A.) on On The Lot who could not have done as well as Len Wiseman with this budget. But I laughed. I laughed a lot. It was horrible, but not offensive (outside of the odd interest Wiseman shows in hitting women in the face really hard, no less than four times in the film). So maybe it will hurt so good for a lot of audiences, not limited to teenage boys who just want to see stuff blow up and to take a few minutes to consider feeling Mary Elizabeth Winstead up.
But I’ll take Transformers to block. The rest…
The last couple of days, I have found myself being “corrected” on a couple of things that I left myself open to via the use of my personal mental shorthand.
I am not thrilled with people who want to tell me what I think and assume that exy explanation is an “excuse.” But what can a guy do… I put myself in that position too.
The first thing was a detail… the questions around a sequel to The Chronicles of Narnia. The story was simple. Anchutz had been pretty clear that he wanted his company, with distribution by Disney, to make 2&3 together, a la The Matrix and Pirates sequels.
As things worked out, even though Andrew Adamson had publically made it clear that Prince Caspia would be the next in the franchise, it was just under three full months before Disney and Walden announced the greenlight. This is not normally how one establishes excitement for a sequel. The movie’s start did not assure sequels… its legs ultimately did, especially in international territories, many of which didn’t open day-n-date. In addition, they backed off the two-for-one plan, though it is possible that a part of that was Disney being mid-Pirates sequels, finding that expected economies were not so money saving.
That was what I was thinking about when I wrote, “barely made enough to get the second film greenlit.” And indeed, the legs and international of the film (almost $750m ww) made it a very good bet.
But also consider this, as you raise your pitchforks… $600 million worldwide for a movie that expensive is not a lock for sequels anymore. Remember, you/re talking about $300 million-plus invested in production and marketing… so thought $600 million assures profits in Home Entertainment and ancillaries, a sequel drop like Shrek The Third, much less Evan Almighty could mean a money loser. (The huge advantage Shrek has on the other two of this summer’s Big Three is that it can be made cheaper and cheaper… and is talent really going to lose a huge payday for doing voice over, so long as these films are theatrically released? Can’t wait to hear the direct-to-DVD replacements! Connelly/Cedric/Swank?)
But yes, I should have been more careful and specific.
The second case was my non-review for The Kingdom.
I find it surprising that so little detail – reviews for movies I really like tend to be a lot longer in a lot more detail – is being taken as a review. But more importantly, when it comes to embargo, I answer to the studio, not my readers. And here is what the studio wrote… “Enclosed is a list of long-lead screenings for THE KINGDOM (Sept. 28, 2007). Would love for you to come and see the film – and you are fine to write about the film but just not review it. Is that ok with you?”
I also read the NY Times piece on the movie, which was a lot more detailed than what I wrote. After a decade dealing with Universal, I understand what they were asking of me and why. I wrote inside those rules.
The headline was a bit of smartassity, speaking to this forever game of working inside and outside of the lines. There are other exchanges on this that I still consider private, so I will not expose them. But again, not a problem on a professional level in any way.
However, I do understand why some of you might assume I was skirting the rules in some way. I was not. But I suppose it is my responsibility to make that 100% clear, especially since I do feel free to comment on how these games are played, regardless on who is involved.
Even though I don’t want to have to explain myself to death all the time, enough people have spoken to this issue that I have to concede that I was not clear enough about my actions.
This was the perfectly normal request from Universal Studios upon being invited to see The Kingdom three months before release. I was not alone in the theaters. Other writers will soon speak up. And there will be at least three more screenings before we get to a month before its September 28 release.
Evan Almighty is a film that is going to underperform.
This spin on the spin that it has a lot to do with “faith based marketing” is making me NUTS!
The notion that a studio, even with a budget of $175 million, was relying on Christians to come out to make the film a giant grosser is INSANE!!!! The Chronicles of Narnia, which was a much more natural religious fit, barely made enough to get the second film greenlit. No other film since Passion of the Christ has done much at all based on pitching to Christians – though a bunch of films have hired Christian marketing groups to push their films – and Universal knew that. It doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t take the shot at that market. But it has become like some sick little not-enough-to-write-about joke that everytime a studio includes Christians in their marketing plan, the media starts hyping it up as their PRIMARY marketing plan.
You want to know why I get crazy about coverage
Facing the prospect of a public trial early next year, Koules and Shapiro recently settled their dispute, an attorney for Shapiro said last week. Terms of the settlement were confidential. But based on public records, child custody, alimony and child support were not issues in the case
Am I the last person on earth to know there was what is supposed to be a major global event in 13 days?
One of the creators of Live Earth was at LAFF today with about 50 shorts made about the environment under their auspices and was talking about this being the most watched TV show in history, etc…
And I had not heard a single word. And 7-7-7 doesn’t seem that hard to promote.
Maybe it’s me…
A double dip with the great Michael Giacchino, who scored The Incredibles and Ratatouille for Brad Bird, The Family Stone for Tom Bezucha, and The Full JJ (Abrams) with Alias, Lost, Six Degrees, Mission: Impossible III, and soon-to-come, Star Trek: The Next Iteration.
MikeG is one of Hollywood’s good guys. See him work in this MCN Exclusive Disney behind the scenes on scoring The Rat. And then…
From Andy’s Brother… We are hoping to pull things together for a memorial on Saturday, the 30th of June, in Long Beach at 1 PM. We have a pastor in the family who has a small church down there. I want to invite EVERY friend of his, I do not want to keep this a private affair, as he could not be contained either!”
As soon as the details are finalized, I will send out an update.
If you would like to send flowers, condolences or anything else to Andy’s family, you can to:
Anna or Arnold L. Jones
1471 E. Fairifield Ct.
Ontario, CA 91761
I know they will appreciate any sentiments or prayers as this has been an especially rough few days for them.
You can neither make beautiful, great movies without risk as you can make babies without sex. Risk is part of the artistic process. That’s why I like performance, because performance is walking a high wire.
~ Francis Coppola
“Probably the most heralded movie I’ve ever been in was Forrest Gump. While I was sitting on the park bench, I asked Bob, ‘Is anyone going to care about this guy?’ He said, ‘I don’t know Tom. It’s a mine field. It’s a fucking mine field.’ So when it works, you just say, ‘We dodged all the mines.'”
~ Tom Hanks